Traditions of Time
Posted on 29th December 2021 at 23:03
We have a little New Year’s tradition in our house. Every New Year’s Eve, we make a time capsule for the coming year. We write down on pieces of paper, wishes, reflections or goals for the coming year – just one or as many as we want, each on a separate piece of paper. Then, we fold them up and put them into a large, yellow, plastic capsule (saved from a Kinder Easter egg), seal the middle with tape and label as the outgoing year. The following year on New Year’s Eve, we open the capsule, remove our pieces of paper and see what transpired for what was written on them, over the course of the year. Then we write new ones (or repeat some of the same), put those into the capsule, seal and relabel as that year. The capsule is stored in amongst the Christmas tree baubles, to be resurrected when the tree is being decorated again and held until New Year's Eve. And so it goes, year in year out. Each year we remark the same thing - we remember little of what we wrote on our pieces of paper the previous year! We guess and are sometimes surprised but that's not surprising when you remember that that was a different space, connected to this space, the here and now, by the passage of time.
Many of us comment on the speed at which a year passes by and yet there are constant reminders of what a difference a year can make time wise and memory wise; reminders of how many things can happen or how situations can change. Since the Covid pandemic arrived in town, everything seems to be measured against that, that life is or should be suspended somehow until the virus leaves, as if this departure is going to happen suddenly and completely in a moment. We innocently believed it would all be done in dusted in two weeks. Twenty two months later, we know that this is not the case and that vaccines can only do so much.
Back to the capsule! We also remark as we go through our notes, how many things get done, especially the things that retained importance as the year progressed. We acknowledge the additional things done that never made it into the capsule in the first place! This reminds me of when I suggest to clients that make ‘to do’ lists, to also consider compiling a ‘done’ list, to acknowledge the successes that don’t get noticed because they did not feature on a ‘to do’ list to begin with and thus drop below the radar in terms of a sense of productivity and achievement. It is also reminiscent of that behavioural tendency in arguments, that discounts the positive in the other and focuses only on the negative.
If there is something in our capsule that did not feature in the year, we can reflect on it, whether it is still important and if so, it can go back in for the following year. We learn to accept that we don't have to do everything in order to be everything or appreciate everything.
The practice of a tradition symbolises consistency, a practice that can be a tremendous anchor in the highs and lows of a moment. There are alot of traditions and practices associated with this time of year. One of the most important, is the time off that most of us willingly take at the end of a busy year. We are tired and need rest. Rest allows us to pause and reflect. Reflecting helps us to learn from the lessons of the past year and gain insights from all that has occurred. Being consistent, pausing and reflecting allows us to take the right action for the coming year rather than just any action. This builds resilience so we are ready for what lies ahead. In a time of great uncertainty, when so much seems out of our control, we work with the things we can control. We can control ourselves, our actions and reactions.
When a year has been challenging and difficult with little or no respite, we tend to wish it away as quickly as possible. "Roll on the next year" as if it will erase and nullify the previous. Perhaps one of the saddest aspects when we allow events to suspend or erase time is that we don’t get that time back. We don’t get to relive a day. We don’t get to relive our lives. Ask the person who is running out of time due to a terminal illness, how precious each minute, hour and day is. We get one chance at our life and we need to live it all. Every aspect of it, every turn of the road. A quote attributed to Herb Gardner says:
" You have got to own your days and live them, each one of them, every one of them, or else the years go by and none of them belong to you."
In the words of Sylvia Plath:
" I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in my life."
Experiencing the shades, tones and variations is what enables us to negotiate life and shows us that the impossible and the wonderful is achieved by living.
If you are experiencing difficulty as we approach a new year and need some help, please get in touch here.
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